As Kansas Veterans Cemetery manager in WaKeeney since it opened in 2004, Heidi Goff and her staff prepare for this weekend well in advance each year.
On Monday, the cemetery will host its 12th annual Memorial Day Service. It is one of the largest of its kind in the state. The ceremony will start at 10 a.m.
“We start planning months ahead for this,” Goff said. “It’s our biggest event every year.”
The cemetery — at 403 S. 13th — plans to host between 300 to 500 guests. Goff said that it seems to grow in attendance each year. There are approximately 350 veterans buried in the cemetery. The next of kin of any veteran buried there is sent a notification well before the ceremony.
The guest speaker this year will be Amanda Legleiter from the American Legion Riders. Her speech will be on patriotism.
The Calvary Re-enactment Troop will take part in the ceremony, and will present the riderless horse. The re-enactment will be in memory of the soldiers who did not return from the war by having a saddle on the horse and boots in the stirrups.
The VFW Post 3449 and Kansas National Guard will take part as the color and honor guard. The Hays High Plains Barbershop Chorus, directed by Bill Scott and Don Urban, will sing. Goff said they are expecting 30 to 40 of the group members to be present.
The ceremony draws family members, veterans and other anyone who wants to attend from across Kansas and from surrounding states.
“We have people from different spots,” Goff said. “We’ve had families from Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma. We’ve had more people come every year.”
The north gates to the cemetery will be open for parking in Phase II behind the shelter. Goff said bringing a lawn chair is encouraged because there is limited seating. There will be handicapped parking available near the shelter area.